(By Jay Ambrose, Centennial Institute Fellow)
Donald Trump is the worst of all American presidents except when you discard the myths about him, get honest about the record of Barack Obama, imagine what the future might hold and shoo away the hysteria about collusion with Russia. In terms of evidence, that noise is roughly the equivalent of the birther theory about Obama being disqualified for the presidency because he was born in Kenya.
Born in Hawaii, he still had dire shortcomings, as his legacy testifies. But let’s deal first with Trump and the tall tale that he advocated hacking of Hillary Clinton’s emails. In the first paragraph of a front-page story in The New York Times, we learned he advocated this undertaking, and maybe this was not a lie. Maybe it was just bias in cahoots with stupidity, although its repetition here, there and everywhere has tended to lend credibility to the Russian conspiracy theory.
What Trump really said at the press conference that brought all of this on was that he did not know whether Russia had the emails or not, but that if it had done the hacking, it was because Barack Obama was weak enough to let it happen. The obvious point was that Trump would be a strong president and that such a thing would not happen under him. It does not take deep, prolonged, intellectually powerful analysis to see that this means he was not for the hacking.
He did say that if Russians had the emails, they should share them and the press would be delighted. However, even if that is seen as objectionable, he was not talking about emails released by Wikileaks. They concerned lowlife proceedings at Clinton campaign headquarters. He was talking instead about emails killed out of Clinton’s personal computer despite a subpoena by a congressional committee.
Those emails dated back to when she was secretary of state, and if they included any that showed official communications, their attempted destruction would be obstruction of justice. She said they were about yoga and grandchildren, and if she was being honest, then what’s the big deal about letting the public know what a regular lady she really is?
Myth Number Two: Trump gave the most hateful inauguration speech ever. That’s what many said, telling us that he painted a dark picture of the current state of America, that he did not call for unity and that he debased past presidents. Actually he did call for national unity in powerful words, and his speech could almost have been modeled after the one President Barack Obama gave in 2008.
The circumstances were then different, Obama’s speech was twice as long and it was written in flowery language unlike Trump’s. But it also painted a bleak picture of the state of the union. In words far more crucifying than any employed by Trump, the speech went on at length slamming what had happened with George W. Bush as president, although his name was not mentioned. It, too, ended in a call for unity, and anyone who doubts the finely tuned similarities should find both texts online and compare them.
Myth number three is that Trump is sticking to his call for mass deportation of illegal immigrants. In fact, he has made it known repeatedly that the emphasis would be on illegal immigrants guilty of serious crimes even though it would not follow that the administration would ignore others here illegally. Without nearly the same screeches of protest, Obama followed the same path, deporting 2.4 million immigrants during his eight years in office with a high percentage nowhere near felons. For a while, the administration was getting rid of traffic violators left and right.
Note, as myth number four, that Trump is repeatedly called anti-gay when he in verifiable fact is not; he went out of the way in the GOP nominating convention, for instance, to stand for gay rights. Trump is also portrayed as racist because, for one thing, he talked about some inner city neighborhoods being as desperate as liberals have correctly described them for years. His pro-police, law-and-order ideas would do far more than any liberal program to save black lives.
Myth number five is that he would intensify climate change with his policies. He is against Obama’s Clean Power Plan, but, at huge expense, it would do next to nothing to lower greenhouse gas emissions, and neither will the Paris accords on climate change. To cut down on CO2 emissions while allowing the economy to thrive, the most effective means would be more nuclear power, which Trump is for even though he has so far done nothing noticeable to move toward that end.
In the meantime, we need fossil fuels to maintain a decent standard of living. The best way to develop renewable energy is something known as a free market with no subsidies attached. Through natural-gas fracking, it has already been more responsible than government for reduction of CO2 emissions, and Trump may well increase fracking.
Another phony tale told about Trump is that he is authoritarian even though in any number of significant ways he has already reduced unneeded governmental intrusions in American life. The Obama administration, on the other hand, set a record for instituting new, major regulations costing the economy more than $100 million each. We got more than 600 of them, and meanwhile, Obama granted temporary amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants after saying 22 times it would be unconstitutional. His energy plan would illegally rewrite state laws on top of all the federal laws he has already unilaterally rewritten.
Obama also set a record for being at war longer than any other administration in American history, every year of his two terms. The irony is that he campaigned in 2008 on getting us out of war and was given a Nobel Peace Prize in anticipation of his pacifist deeds. Obviously, there were forces at play that Obama could not control, but his withdrawal of troops from Iraq opened the door for the Islamic State. Our joint venture in Libya facilitated new horrors. He warned Syria about decisive actions if it used chemical weapons, backed down and many see that as a factor in the mass deaths and millions of refugees that followed.
Trump called the news media a “public enemy,” not so wise, but unlike the Obama administration, he has not threatened reporters with jail if they do not reveal their sources, spied on reporters or tricked the press into fake news on something as important as the justification for the Iran deal.
An Obama aide confessed as much, but no confession is needed about the record the administration set in 2015 of censoring or denying requests for information under the Freedom of Information Act. In 77 percent of all requests – more than a half million times – the administration that pledged to be the most transparent of all times said wear this blindfold instead.
Obama also reigned over the slowest economic recovery since World War II with the overall debt being doubled during his tenure. That likely had something to do with another record he set – Democrats losing not just the presidency, but also more governor’s races and congressional and state legislative seats than under any of his predecessors.
None of this means Trump is not loaded with faults or that Obama had no virtues. What it does mean is that context shows a different picture from the near-maniacal condemnation of Trump, including the Russian collusion accusations that have no evidence. He has already begun rescuing us from some Obama transgressions and has some good things up his sleeve – such as tax reform that could give us economic growth doing vast good for millions.
Trump does need to address some of his issues – no more tweets! – but if we are to go where we need to go, his political enemies also need to address some of theirs, such as putting fanaticism above love of country.